Ice fishing is a little different, we admit, but there are things to love. One is surely the feat of the thing. To do it because it can be done, but also because there’s a distinctly primal connection to trekking up to a frozen lake, drilling a hole in the ice, and dropping a baited fishing line to catch a healthy, delicious meal in freezing temperatures. There’s an act of ingenuity and elbow grease—or motorized power—in the form of some type of ice auger. There’s the stark beauty of the surrounding landscape, and there’s the calm patience of waiting for a fish to take the bait.
- Getting Interested: Not sure what ice fishing really entails, much less whether it’s something you might enjoy? Looking for a concise step-by-step guide to introduce yourself to the concept of ice fishing? Here’s a handy online guide.
- Getting Started: Confirmed that ice fishing is more than a fleeting fascination for you? A beginner’s guide is one thing, but the next logical step is an actual trip-planning guide. You’ll still have to scout a spot and style of ice fishing (below), but you can already start preparing, shopping, and making a packing list for ice fishing.
- Getting to the Next Level: Already been ice fishing a couple times and been frustrated with the results? Wondering how to catch the big one? Field and Stream can take your new ice fishing hobby to the next level.
We encourage everyone to take their interest in ice fishing to the next level with these tips. Just remember to be safe and to take care of the ice fishing spots you visit.
The 3 Big Ways to Experience Ice Fishing
- Fun but Freezing Day Trips: If you live in proximity to an ice fishing lake, you may not need to make extensive plans. By dressing appropriately, packing wisely, and staying flexible to watch out for a windless day, you can make ice fishing a day trip with little to no shelter. Especially if you have a high-tech auger that will get you through the ice before you’re already bone-cold and a hot beverage to start warm, you can have a bunch of fun and few frustrations while ice fishing on a day trip.
- Ice Shanties and Portable Shelters: From basic lean-to wind guards to fully-enclosed highly-rated ice fishing shelters, there are several kinds and numerous brands of ice shanties and portable shelters. Day-trippers can certainly make use of these shelters, but the higher-end options are especially coveted by multi-day backpacking and snowshoeing adventures. And while you’ll need a license and to follow all applicable local and state laws no matter what type of ice fishing you’re doing, things get complicated when you get into daily fish counts and carcass disposal.
- Fish House Ice Fishing: Now, this is our favorite kind of ice fishing. There are dozens of commercial ice fishing spots and fish house rental companies. You can sit in what amounts to an RV or a small cabin and ice fish through the floor, while playing cards/chess with a buddy, or watching TV. A generator and mini-cooking area may also give the ability to clean, prep, and cook your catch on the ice.
We thought we’d give a shout out to Pemberton Fish Finder. If you’re looking for local tips for British Columbia in Canada, they’re a great source.